Monday, September 24, 2007

Hypocrite Lecteur! --mon semblable,--mon frére!

So my brother, whose blog I'm copying, really, posted today about right-wingers who are afraid of all the "godless pinko commies" in higher education. The post is here:

My brother just finished his doctorate in Spanish Literature and right now he's scraping out a living as an Assistant Professor in some god-forsaken (or infested, depending on how you look at it) town in rural South Carolina where you have to drive 17 miles to go to a Shoney's. His male students are athletes and his female students were heavily influenced by the Spice Girls and Paris Hilton...and not ironically ("Whaaat?"). Let's generalize, shall we?

For those of you who just landed, I used to be Mormon. My brother, despite his high level of intelligence, still is (comments are welcome!). Unlike me, my brother was not the hairshirt-wearing-fascist-masochist-type Mormon that I was [see footnote 1]. He swore, he watched rated "R" movies, he skipped church sometimes, and he didn't tape moments of silence over the swear words in his Pearl Jam records. This, and the inherent patriarchy of the church (really, comments are welcome!) are, in my opinion, why he's still Elder Williams and I'm drinking coffee and beer MIXED TOGETHER. [Please see footnote 2].

Mac's post is interesting because he describes the epiphany he had on his mission where he realized that, although he thought he wasn't judging people, he was, and that there are a variety of ways to be ethical and moral in the world. One testament to his character and his intelligence (take note, there are only about four) is that, on his mission, he questioned whether or not the way he had chosen was best. That's pretty damn brave of him.

The point of his post is that if one has a set of values, or teaches one's children a set of values, those values are weak if one cannot participate in the world. In other words, conservative Christians who seek to isolate their children because they're afraid of the "bad" influence of society are really insecure about their values to begin with. I agree...BUT if I had a daughter reared on Our Bodies, Ourselves and whole grains, I'd fear for her safety if I put her in public school in Cherokee County, Georgia.

Our Mom and Dad (or Mama and Daddy, depending on how much I miss them) were big into values and ethics and morals. If our domestic scene were a play, the overall tone would be "self-righteous." And this was the case even before we converted. I believe part of the reason my Dad took so well to Mormonism [see footnote 3] was because of the impeccable moral structure [see footnote 4] and clear, well-defined codes of what is right and wrong. It's like the Jenny Craig diet where they give you all the food and help you along and, like the Jenny Craig diet, IT WORKS! I'm not being a sarcastic asshole here; if one wants to "get religion" (i.e. find purpose in one's life) and, especially, if one wants to orient one's life around the family, the Mormon church is excellent.

I agree with my brother. I agree that there are a variety of ways to live morally in the world. One of these, as shown especially well by my brother, is the Mormon church. Another one is showing kindness toward your friends by following this recipe:

* One pint Guinness Lager
* One shot espresso
* One scoop chocolate ice cream

Blend. Pour into a pint glass. Serve on tray with a Nat Sherman and a copy of The Delta of Venus. It takes all kinds.

* * *

[Footnote 1] Hairshirt: "A garment of rough cloth made from goats' hair and worn in the form of a shirt or as a girdle around the loins, by way of mortification and penance."

[Footnote 2] I should say here that our family converted to the church, staggeringly, between 1990-1994. I hold that those who were raised Mormon have different reasons for staying/leaving (such as, oh, belief). If you don't think I respect that, please reread this post.

[Footnote 3] I'm writing for the non-LDS person here. Mormons don't call themselves "Mormons." They call themselves "LDS," which is short for "Latter-day Saint" which comes from the name of the church: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

[Footnote 4] A definite case can be made against an "impeccable moral structure" in the church if one looks at the church's historical relationship (as opposed to its present-day one) with African-Americans. Also, one could argue that the church privileges men. However, one can also argue that church doctrine itself (as opposed to the people in the church) is not sexist and, in fact, privileges women. I'm on the slightly-disturbed-about-everything-concerning-Brigham-Young bandwagon (comments welcome!). Also, several people I know would never call anyone who knocks at their door wanting to convert them "moral." I don't agree or disagree.


Mac said...

FOR THE RECORD: My sister, who has never been to Hartsville, owns her description of Hartsville and Coker College. I do not share her opinions about the place, or the students, or the school. I like Hartsville, and I am honored to a member of the faculty of Coker. If I felt otherwise, I would not have tied myself to the community by purchasing a home here.

My sister just called me highly intelligent. I'm all kitty purring inside now.

Louis said...

What happened to you Susanna? Has that stud in your face infected your brain? How can you speak this way about your church family? And you know that once you are in you can never leave! I know this is not you speaking Susanna, I know you have been brainwashed by those stinky, no-pit-shaving, latte drinking, poetry reading, snail darter saving, eath worshipping, tree-hugging hippies out in San Fran (the new Gomorrah)! Come back and let us heal your mind.

Seriously though. Interesting and entertaining post. And very insightful to say the least. Obviously, as an active Mormon, I have differing opinions about the church than those you've espoused. I find it to be a source of strength and stability in my life and believe in its doctrine. That's not to say that I have never questioned the doctrine, but I have found that if I search the scriptures and the words of the prophets, I always find an answer that not only affirms my faith, but that logically appeases my more cynical, pessimistic side. I wholeheartedly agree with you on one apect though, that being the need to differentiate the doctrine from the flawed actions of individual members. Heaven knows that I am only useful as an example of the LDS faith about a third of the time (unfortunately for my efforts at a big house in the afterlife, that third generally occurs during my sleeping hours).

Anywho, hope you don't mind me checking out the blog. I saw it linked on Mac's when he e-mailed me the link to his eulogy. I love you guys and appreciate the unofficial adoption into the family. Ya'll mean the world to us. Okay, gotta go. The kids are riding their bikes through my freshly painted pentagram. The offender shall be sacrificed at nightfall. Love you.